Making a Case for Brand Positioning in Higher Education

Brand positioning is the strategy that stokes my fire for marketing more than any other. It is a powerful means of differentiating a brand from competitors and articulates brand meaning to consumers. My intensity on positioning is also fueled by dismay at the numerous brands that do not seem to appreciate the impact of positioning or simply have no clue how to develop a positioning strategy.

My industry, higher education, is not exempt from this dim view of the practice of brand positioning. Many branding campaigns either revolve around the institution itself (e.g., programs, buildings, history) or feature a “diverse” group of students engaged in mock interactions, presumably doing some learning. In other words, most higher education branding efforts are lousy! There are exceptions, with one of those being a current campaign at Purdue University.

Purdue’s current branding campaign, dubbed “Makers All,” sets out to differentiate Purdue’s programs in areas such as math, science, and technology, experiential learning, and international culture. The aim of the campaign is to communicate how students are impacted through their studies at Purdue. It is all about the customer and what the product does for them. “Makers All” is a refreshing change from the seemingly predictable tone of many Higher Ed marketing campaigns.

A brand’s position is based on a point of difference that is: 1) real and 2) relevant. Purdue’s “Makers All” campaign meets those criteria. What is most compelling about Purdue’s brand positioning is its connection to stakeholders. Students, prospective students, alumni, and employers all can appreciate the value the brand delivers.

Marketing Daily - "Purdue Differentiates Self in New Effort"